Never Say Never
Anything can happen in the Atlantic Football league. The Hanover Rhinos’ 2015 season was a shining example of that.
The Rhinos battled back from an 0-4 start to finish 4-6 and nab a playoff spot.
One game personified the never-give-up-attitude showcased by that particular squad.
On May 9th, the Rhinos traveled to face the Fredericksburg Bears, with their record sitting at 2-5, making the game a must-win.
“It was a 2 1/2-hour drive to a game we weren’t supposed to win,” Hanover co-owner and 2015 head coach Adam Bostian said.
By the time the game was over, a wild, woolly play had catapulted the Rhinos to the most unconventional of victories.
After battling through nearly 60 minutes, the Rhinos were lined up for the game-winning field goal.
However, there was one caveat- regular kicker Alex Elliott was not in uniform due to an injury.
Standing 34 yards away, tight end-turned kicker Shawn Brady sized up the goalposts.
He leaned down to holder Bob Moore, and began to speak.
“We set up for the game-winning field goal, but I have been kicking like (expletive), so I told Bob to fake it to (Jay) Collins,” Brady said.
The snap came, and, in a moment that would be perfect for NFL films, Moore rose up, and rolled left.
The only thing missing was the dramatic orchestral music as Moore heaved his fourth-down pass to the end zone.
Collins rose for the ball, but it fell to the ground. However, a penalty flag sprawled on the ground, and the Rhinos were given a first down at the Fredericksburg three on a defensive holding penalty.
On first-and-goal from the three, the Rhinos lined up with two tight ends, and gave the ball to running back Gui Lazar. Lazar powered across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
“Well, it made the ride home a lot better,” Bostian said. “Bunty and I were singing with the radio the whole way home.”
“The guys weren’t giving up on the season,” Bostian added. “It was a big win to keep the season going, but we had to keep winning, and get some help along the way.”
The last-minute comeback came on the heels of a game where Moore threw 4 interceptions. Three of them were picked off in the end zone.
After a Rhinos’ defensive stop to start the game, the offense took the field for the first time.
Running back Jeremy Knaub led Hanover down the field with a series of bruising runs.
Knaub ran for 1o1 yards on the day.
“We were running the ball well all game,” Knaub said. “Good blocks. We just played an all-around good game.”
On third-and-15 from the Fredericksburg 20, Moore found Lazar for the opening score.
Late in the first quarter, Bears’ quarterback Josh Browne went deep, and Jamal Smith made a leaping catch over cornerback Charles Smith for a touchdown.
Hanover marched down the field just before half, and Moore ran the ball across the goal line from four yards out, and the Rhinos took a 13-7 lead into halftime.
Fredericksburg cornerback Antwon Thompson returned an interception for a touchdown in the second half. Joseph Merenda’s extra point put the Bears up 14-13, and set up the dramatic finish.
“It was a good game, it was pretty back and forth,” Knaub said.